Saturday, December 17, 2016

Thirty-Eight 2016 Films I Never Reviewed [Fat Jesus Tweet Reviews]

Now I haven't done a blog post in quite awhile. I got busy with school this semester. So, for my last post of 2016, I decided to do Tweet reviews of films that I never got around to doing actual reviews of over this past year. It might be a cop out, but I hope you get the gist of what I thought of all these films. I'm pretty sure they're in alphabetical order as well, so feel free to scroll through them all at your leisure! There may be typos too cause these are Tweets and I'm lazy. (I saw a few in my screen caps that I'm far too lazy to change haha.)

Anyway, thanks for reading everything that I posted this year! Be sure to have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year as well!



Friday, August 5, 2016

Suicide Squad [A Fat Jesus Film Review]

Alright you comic book and superhero nerds out there, I’m back! This time with a review of the most hyped DC film that didn’t go over well with the critics, since the last ten DC films that didn’t go over well with critics. That’s right, I’m talking about “Batman & Robin.” Just kidding, this time, it’s “Suicide Squad!” It’s my birthday today and coincidentally it’s also opening day for the superhero-villain group of self-harm. Now the critics have been really rough on DC this year, “Batman v Superman” didn’t go over so well and neither has “Suicide Squad.” I’m on the other side of the boat than most every critic out there. I thought BvS was alright, and “Suicide Squad” is a further step in the right direction, as DC has finally started to build their expanded universe.

“Suicide Squad” occurs after the events of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Government official Amanda Walker (Viola Davis) assembles a team of the world’s most dangerous criminals to undertake high-risk missions for the United States government. These criminals are; the deranged girlfriend of The Joker (Jared Leto), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), an elite hitman and assassin that has never missed a shot, Deadshot (Will Smith), an ex-gangster with pyrokinetic powers, El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), a crazed Australian bank robber, Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), a monstrous cannibal that has the body of a crocodile, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and a spec-op mercenary Slipknot (Adam Beach). Under the command of Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), as well as his bodyguard Katana (Karen Fukuhara), the group must go into the heart of Midway City and stop Dr. June Moone (Cara Delevingne). She is a former recruit for the squad, who is possessed by an ancient witch called the Enchantress, who is hell bent on destroying the world. This ‘Suicide Squad’ is not keen on being used, or working together, but along the way realize that a bigger evil than all of them combined is threatening the planet’s existence.

I've been keeping up with the overall thoughts coming out from the world over the past couple of days leading to the release of the film. I can honestly say that the most accurate thing I’ve seen, from everyone, is that it feels like two different films patched together. This also comes on the heels of reports that the films, was in fact, reshot in a lot of places in the wake of BvS reviews and reception. This is a film that has the flashes of the Marvel quips and humor, but the muddled stories that DC have been putting out with their last couple of films. I liked the humor and character writing, I thought it worked well in a lot of places. Harley Quinn, The Joker (at times), Amanda Walker and even Deadshot have some great humorous moments. All of the members have their moment to shine in the film too, which is a welcome site that no one is left out. The problem comes with the plot. The only reason the squad is even needed at all, is because the squad was created in the first place. Not only that, the cliched “honor among thieves” in done so often, it’s hard to get excited because we knew the bad guys were going to be good guys and save the world. Let Harley Quinn escape near the end and make Joker more central to the story. Those would be my two biggest fixes, rather than paying Jared Leto lead money for a supporting role at best and letting the predictable happen. Other than that my biggest complaints were the length, it felt really draggy at times, the forgettable/underwhelming villain (Sorry, Cara) and the reshoots probably didn’t help things either.

The acting was pretty damn good too. Margot Robbie was a fantastic Harley Quinn, in both the current and flashback scenes, and really captured the dark, quirky, evil humor that The Joker made her brain into. Speaking of The Joker, Jared Leto was pretty good. I don’t think there was enough of him overall to truly judge him, but if he’s in the solo Batman film with Ben Affleck, oh man, that could be perfect. Will Smith is another standout as Deadshot. I was a bit worried about how he would do as Deadshot, but he was the charismatic lead they signed him for. The first scene in midway where he went berserk and killed literally everything on the frontlines by himself, was probably the most badass moment in the film. Finally, Viola Davis as Amanda Walker, the government agent, with her take no prisoners attitude and the means to control these criminals, provides the only reason the plot ever moves. Not only that, she has moments of badassery that one ups everyone. Everyone else is fine in their roles, especially Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, who gets awesome in the final act alone, and it keeps the story that is on life-support afloat. The action is fine throughout as well. There are a few scenes with Batfleck kicking ass and the second half of the film has pretty consistently good action until the credits roll. The music and score we’re alright too. It felt like they were going for a “Guardians of the Galaxy” vibe, but came off as cramming too much recognizable music, rather than a good sensible mix.

“Suicide Squad” is DC’s better film of the year. But, not by as much as people would lead you to think. If you never saw “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” the extended cut it’s worth your time, it’s marginally better than the theatrical cut. On the other hand, “Suicide Squad” is working DC’s way towards the Marvel recipe of action and humor. If DC wants to take a page from Marvel, then they need to build off of this, then they could make comparable films. The humor is there, the action is alright, the casting is great as well. They just need the coherent stories and they can keep it rolling. I liked “Suicide Squad”, the problem is the bad and meh are REALLY bad and meh. This all being said, “Suicide Squad” is worth a watch, and DC is marginally improving.

Monday, June 6, 2016

John Wick [Fiverr Fix]

**Disclaimer! This is a review asked for by a friend of mine through Fiverr. If you'd like to request a film review please head on over to this link, HERE! It will help me out in a small way if you choose to do so!**

Keanu Reeves is the first big action star for us kids born in the late 90s. You had your Arnold’s, you had your Seagal’s, you even had your Willis’. The “Matrix” changed all that, as we finally had Neo to satisfy our action hero needs. For Reeves it’s been a very hit a miss career ever since, that’s including the second and third Matrix films. Well, Keanu fans, don’t fret, because 2014’s “John Wick” is the action film you’ve been waiting for. Now that I have finally seen the film, and not just heard the good things about it, I’m on board for the sequel that’s coming out early next year.

“John Wick” follows the story of John Wick (Reeves). He has recently lost his wife, Helen (Bridget Moynahan), and after her death he receives a puppy, Daisy, that she sent to him to help him cope. The two bond quickly and one day at a gas station, three Russian mobsters ask to buy Wick’s car, to which he refuses. Unfortunately, the mobsters follow Wick home, beat him down, kill the puppy and steal his car. The mobsters have no idea what they’re about to unleash, as Wick, the Russian mobs (former) best assassin, is about to go on a revenge fueled retribution spree.

This film is a return to form for the former top tier action star Reeves, as everything in this action-thriller works. The setting of New York City is used quite well as decapitated buildings and extravagant hotels are torn asunder as Wick fights to find who killed his dog. He’s also surviving the multi-million dollar hit that was placed on him too. The darker tones and shadow filled places and characters add great depth to the film. This is further enhanced by the melodic soundtrack which sounded awesome. This is more than just your typical action film as well, as Keanu, Michael Nyqvist (Viggo), Ian McShane (Winston) show the depths of this almost mythical and unbelievable crime syndicate. Finally, the action is what anchors “John Wick.” Second unit directors and stunt coordinators from “The Matrix” trilogy are used in this and it’s clear they can still put on a damn good show. The fight scenes are quick, fluid and look brutal. Not to mention there’s a ton of them, so you’re not sitting around waiting for the action to flare back up. Each punch seems like it’s breaking bone and every shot to the head from Wick is greatly satisfying.

“John Wick” is one of those films that sinks its teeth into you and never lets go until the credits roll. We get a lot character depth out of a lot of the main characters, most notably John Wick. This is an action thriller that’s deeper than just, “man blindly rampages to satisfy his need for revenge.” The look and feel of the film are astounding, while the action and score are brutal, fluid and electric. Man, I really wish I’d watched “John Wick” much sooner.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Gods of Egypt [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Jesus H. Christ what the hell did I just watch? Now, I normally don't go out of my way to write purely scathing reviews, unless you count "50 Shades of Grey." But, "Gods of Egypt" is a film, if you can even call it that, that takes the concept of bad CGI and turns it into a running gag. No this is not a comedy, this is a film that takes a star-studded cast, 140 million dollars and a loose guesstimation of Egyptian mythology and turns it into 2 hours...wait hold on, this was two hours? Why? What? How? I can't believe I actually watched this...

"Gods of Egypt" follows the story of Bek (Brenton Thwaites) and Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) as they fight against the new mad king Set (Gerard Butler) after he takes over the throne. This is an alternate Egypt where the earth is flat and the gods live among the mortals. You can tell who the gods are by their size, golden blood and their ability to Animorph into super-powered animal-headed deity forms. (No, I am not making this up.) During the overthrow, Set takes Horus' eyes, leaving him powerless. He also steals his Queen to be, Hathor (Elodie Yung). Bek's girlfriend --fiancee, wife, not really sure-- Zaya (Courtney Eaton) gets taken as salve to the new government. She helps get Bek the plans to steal back one of Horus' eyes and after he does the two are caught. As they run, Zaya is fatally shot with an arrow. Bek goes to Hours to give him his eye back and ask for his help as the two journey across land and space to try and save Zaya and all of Egypt from Set's apocalyptic plans.

This is CGI the film. From start to finish you're loaded with completely noticeable CGI backgrounds, god to animal transformations and copy and paste crowds of people in the background. This wouldn't be so awful if the CGI wasn't so unbearable. This film is loaded with motion blur and PS3 level design animal transformations. Nothing is seamless and everything looks like it was made in a rush. That is the theme of "God of Egypt," hastiness. The story winds on and on, with a lot of it being pointless filler that made it seem like it justified the 140 million dollar budget. The story itself is bare-bones, because this is a "bad guy takes over, good guy loses and emotionally scarred pretty boy has to change his ways to save the earth" story. Cliche in every aspect. Yet this film spends an hour and a half trying to build one dimensional characters that really didn't matter because the CGI was the focal point of everything. I will give it to Chadwick Boseman and Elodie Yung, Thoth and Hator. They had fun with their roles and actually gave some of the more okay moments of this disaster. Gerard Butler has gone back to his trend of playing King Leonidas in every role. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is pretty good on "Game of Thrones," but here he's pedestrian at best. Finally, I legit thought Bek and Zaya were Aladdin and Jasmine knock-offs for a solid portion of the film.

"Gods of Egypt" is the worst big budget film of the year by a landslide and might be the worst big budget film I've seen since "Jupiter Ascending." The acting, though they were given nothing to work with, is abysmal. The story is a cliched mess. While the CGI that is supposed to help out at times, is poorly done and looks terrible. I can't recommend much of anything at all in this film. I will say, at least three of these actors have other things going on, "Daredevil," "Black Panther" and "Game of Thrones." Because this was clearly a film that they were held hostage to make, that is the only logical explanation I can think of. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

"Cloverfield," you know that 2008 found footage action horror film about a giant alien monster --that's not Godzilla-- rampaging around New York City? Well, I'm on the side that it was a pretty solid film. The monster was cool, the POV was done well and the overall feel was fun. Never did I think that a spin-off, or "spiritual successor" as the makers call this, like "10 Cloverfield Lane" would ever be born out of that film. But, here we are in 2016 and John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winestead and John Gallagher Jr. are apart of one of the best sci-fi thrillers of the first half of the year.

"10 Cloverfield Lane" follows the story of Michelle (Winestead). She leaves New Orleans and drives through rural Louisiana after a fight with her boyfriend. On the radio she hears about blackouts in major cities and when she gets a call from Ben (her boyfriend) she gets distracted and gets into an accident. Some time later she wakes up and she is chained to wall in a basement. Howard (Goodman) enters the room and informs Michelle that she was in an accident, that an unknown attack has taken place on earth and that she is in a bunker under his home. Michelle them meets Emmett (Gallagher Jr.) who saw the attacks and took shelter in Howard's bunker as well. Time begins to pass as the three start to "live" in the bunker, but tensions begin to rise as Michelle and Emmett start to think that Howard is hiding a big secret.

This is a film that builds tension very well. This isn't a horror, but there are times where things get pretty creepy. This is partially due to the great writing that the screenwriters gave to the actors. The story is great, the characters are engaging and realistic and the atmosphere is eerie from start to finish. Without giving much away, this is a sci-fi thriller set in a bunker after an attack on the US and possibly the earth. The three people begin to try and wait out the attacks, but things get hairy as dissension, uneasiness and distrust. This makes the mystery aspect thrive from start to finish. The other part is due to the fantastic acting by the three leads. John Gallagher Jr., as Emmet, was a great middle ground character. As I'll talk about soon, Winestead is almost pure good, while Goodman is that menacing evil throughout the film. The meek guy that seems kindhearted is a great compliment to both of the other leads. Winestead, as Michelle, is the post-Apocalypse innocence that the planet will inevitably need. She is a kind girl stuck in a wholly unfortunate situation. She sees the goodness in Emmett and she is always wary of everything Howard does. We see her go from silent "damsel in distress," to a leader that has what it takes to survive. Finally, we have a committed and outstanding performance from Goodman. The lurking evil, the hidden agenda, the secret past, the mysterious knowledge of everything going on. Howard is everything you expect a psychopath and Goodman embodies it. I mean come-on, no one can leave and he's had this bunker ready for years. I almost wanted a tinfoil hat in the background somewhere.

If you liked "Cloverfield" and are at all interested in a spin-off that may or may not be in the same world, then "10 Cloverfield Lane" is for you. Even if you aren't a fan of the "first" film, then this is a good enough psychological thriller to satisfy anyone's appetite. The story is solid, the atmosphere is ominous and the acting, especially by John Goodman, is committed and convincing. In the first part of 2016, it's probably the best thriller so far.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Witch [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Horror films are my jam. Lately though, as almost anyone with a pulse knows, there's maybe three or four good horror films that come out in a given year. The first big one for 2016 is definitely "The Witch."A bleak, dark, dreadful horror that builds tension from the opening scenes of the film until the credits roll. This film builds tension much like "It Follows," but it's much better at conveying the fact that nothing is going to get better for the family whatsoever. "The Witch" is one of those horror films that nags at you because it truly has nothing redeeming that happens at all over the course of this, just pure creepiness.

"The Witch" follows the story of a man named William (Ralph Ineson) in New England in the 17th century, who is exiled from a Puritan plantation. He and his, now banished, family-- wife, Katherine (Kate Dickie), daughter, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), son, Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) and fraternal twins, Mercy & Jonas (Ellie Grainger & Lucas Dawson)-- build a farm next to a forest. After several months, Katherine has a baby, Samuel, and one day while Thomasin is playing with him, he vanishes. A witch has taken the baby and Katherine now spends her days praying and crying. Things continue to deteriorate with the entire family as William and Katherine begin to have martial problems, a black goat, Phillip, that wanders onto the farm, begins to make the twins act crazy and Caleb even gets lost in the woods and comes back in miserable shape. William and his family are going through the toughest time of their lives, but will they make it through or succumb to darkness.

"The Witch" is a horror film with the best atmosphere that I've seen in forever. The dark and grey tones, the ominous and eerie score and the cinematography is what makes this stand out above other horror films as of late. The establishing shots of the farm and the forest are beautiful. It gives that sense of dread, while making you think, "I'd never want to come across this forest on a hike." The score that accompanies this is great as well. There's no points where jump scares are employed and the tension that the music brings is truly unsettling. The acting is fine. Ralph Ineson is pretty good as William. He brings that sense of urgent to every scene and he gets better as William descends into madness. Anya Taylor-Joy is also great as Thomasin. She is the last bastion of innocence left in this neck of the woods. While the "did she, didn't she" aspect kept the mystery of the witch in the forest alive until the end. The deaths are outstanding, especially when you start getting midway and through the end of the film. They're not overdone and they look great. Bloody, creepy and above all, realistic. The supernatural aspect is there but understated as well. You see the witch for a moment, black goat Phillip, is a great medium, and watching the family descend into madness is satisfying.

"The Witch" is a great atmospheric horror film that relies on it's look and tension. It's built so well that you're in a complete state of uneasiness throughout the duration. The story is fine and the acting is alright as well, but it's the menacing feel, the dark tones and the looming feel of death is what makes this horror work. There's nothing "good" about this film and that's what makes it so great. If you're in the mood for a great looking horror film, that makes you uncomfortable from start to finish, then "The Witch" will be perfect for you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Jungle Book [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

When I heard that "The Jungle Book" was getting a new live-action film and another new animated film to come later, I was intrigued. More so for this live action version, because I thoroughly enjoyed "Cinderella" from a last year, another live action re-imagining of a classic Disney cartoon. Jon Favreau has always been a director/producer I've enjoyed. The "Iron Man" trilogy, "Chef" and now "The Jungle Book." The cautious interest was whisked away about 10 minutes into the film as the gorgeous scenery, great CGI design and awesome voice acting gets you into this film from the get go. Sure, you probably know the story, but this is presented in such a good way you won't care.

"The Jungle Book" follows the story of Mowgli (Neel Sethi) a young boy who is raised by Raksha (Lupita Nyong'o), an Indian Wolf, that with her pack, led by Akela (Giancarlo Esposito), raises the boy from infancy. He is brought to them by a black panther, Bagheera (Ben Kingsly) who periodically checks upon the boy and teaches him things and how to live in the jungle. One day, during a drought, the animals that live in the jungle gather at the watering hole. A scarred Bengal tiger, Shere Khan (Idris Elba), catches the scent of Mowgli, and since a human scarred him, vows to kill the boy. This causes Akela's pack to send Mowgli away, for fear of attack from the tiger. Bagheera escorts Mowgli from the jungle, into the safety of the outer lands, where Mowgli meets a sloth bear, Baloo (Bill Murray), and gets to learn about the world outside of the only home he's known for the first time.

The things that stand out in this incarnation of The Jungle Book is the beauty of it all. The CGI animals look beautiful and realistic. So while they are CGI it's not distracting as if they looked CGI, if that makes sense. To go along with the CGI, the voice acting is some of the best you'll hear all year. The menacing tone of Elba as Shere Khan, the motherly love from Nyong'o as Raksha, the father-like teaching of Kingsly as Bagheera and the just plain fun in the voice of Murray as Baloo are all outstanding. Scarlett Johansson has a nice little part as Kaa, an Indian python, while a singing Christopher Walken as a mammoth orangutan, King Louie, will grab your attention. Neel Sethi as Mowgli is another high-point as he plays the part well and has great timing in all the lines he delivers and all the scenes he's apart of. The story is a hybrid of the original adaption and the original Disney film from 1967. It's got a darker tone overall, but there's still a lot of fun to be had. Especially when Mowgli meets Baloo for the first time and onward in the film. There's a serious tone, that pushed aside long enough at times, for fun shenanigans and even a few musical numbers.

All of this adds up to a fun as hell film. I like Disney's re-imagining of their own classic animated films. As I said above, "Cinderella" was good and I think "The Jungle Book" was even better. A great film from start to finish, that has exceptional voice acting, beautiful CGI and scenery and a solid hybrid story that will satisfy anyone watching. "The Jungle Book" just a fun time for all and you should definitely make time for it.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Captain America: Civil War [A Fat Jesus Film Review]

Alright people who are seen as nerds because you watch over-sized fights with heroes packed in spandex (no this isn't a pro wrestling review), it's time to assemble! 2016 has already been littered with superheroes. "Deadpool" made us laugh hysterically. "Daredevil" (on Netflix) let us watch beautifully choreographed fight scenes. "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" let us...nap for a few hours? But now, NOW, we're ready for Captain America's third film, The Avengers: Fighting Between In-Laws "Captain America: Civil War!" Those those of us that got a bad taste in our mouths because of BvS, never fear! Civil War is that balance of drama, action and humor, that BvS was sorely looking for. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. lead our ensemble cast in it's most adult film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so far. There's larger than life action sequences, humorous quips that fit the tone and a pretty good story wrapping up everything perfectly fine. Civil War will make Marvel fans overjoyed and with the addition of new faces, Marvel keeps stacking future films even more now. Big time spoilers below, duh.

"Captain America: Civil War" is set one year after the events in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." It follows the grudge match that breaks out between Captain America/Steve Rodgers (Evans) and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Downey Jr). The Avengers B Team, that consists of Captain America, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), take down Bock Rumblow/Crossbones (Frank Grillo), who stole a biological weapon in Lagos. During the fight, Maximoff is forced to contain a massive bomb blast, but it still levels the floor of an office building. Upon return home, Maximoff is visibly shaken by what she did. The US Secretary of State informs the group that the UN will be establishing a governing body to control The Avengers and use them when needed. The team is divided, with Stark taking one side and Rodgers taking the other. During the meeting in Vienna, a devastating bomb is detonated, killing King T'Chaka of Wakanda and his son T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) vows to kill the bomber, who is identified as The Winter Solider, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). After Captain America tries to get Bucky out of the country, they are captured by US intelligence. While Bucky is being interrogated by Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl), he is reconditioned by him to escape and does, solidifying the need for him to be caught. Tony Stark assembles his team to stop Rodgers team from causing further damage. In the Avengers biggest misunderstanding, Team Iron Man, which includes Vision (Paul Bettany) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland), takes on Team Captain America, which includes Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Rinner), in a fight that may tear apart The Avengers for good.

I see a lot of people, taking a political stance with regards to Civil War. While this is a political thriller, I don't think it's really fair to compare it the current political landscape happening in the United States right now. Nor do I want this review to turn into "Trump this" or "Hillary that." So with that being said, I'm going build a wall around my (real life) political thoughts and try to keep it about the film itself. The film itself, by the way, was pretty amazing. You expect a MCU film to be full of action and humor, since that's been their MO since the first Iron Man film. This one though, takes a turn for suspense and drama, with action built in and humor on the side (and swinging in at you during the middle.) This film is a power struggle and an action drama. Not to mention we get to see the results and consequences of characters growing with their lives and powers. 

We have Steve Rodgers having to struggle with the reality that he simply cannot not get involved in conflict. Not to mention, for a good portion of the film, Rodgers is almost blinded by his loyalty to his 100-year old friend, Bucky, despite what he's doing. Not to mention Peggy Carter has passed away and he's dealing with a new steamy relationship with Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp), a relative of Peggy herself. Tony Stark on the other hand is dealing with the fact that throughout his life, people have left him. His parents died, Pepper has asked for a break and now The Avengers may be breaking up. Wanda Maximoff is young and learning to deal with the effects of her powers, (which look like she's already one of the most powerful of the group). Vision is learning about literally everything and on top of that he's trying to figure out the Infinity Gem that's on his head. Hawkeye is struggling with retirement, while Ant-Man and Peter Parker has have only had their powers for a limited time. For God's sake, we saw War Machine lose the use of his legs. It's one of the darkest things to happen so far in the MCU and I think it's a turning point, for the direction. Everyone is not the simple superhero we've come to see them as, we're seeing them as real people, or beings, for the first time. They're stronger than us and have powers we don't understand, some would call them freaks, while others a security concern. They see it as them trying to protect us and being (almost) rejected. Gone are the let's team up, hurl one-liners and smash baddies. We're learning, as they are, that there are consequences to everything they do. I think Marvel got that viewers will pick up on all this faster than DC did. So, I can see where Tony Stark was coming from this whole film, people need to be kept in check at times, because as the old quote goes, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." The Avengers have don a ton of damage, and as we see in this, killed a lot of innocent people. Hell, handling Sokovia better, would've eliminated Zemo from ever losing his family and turning his life towards breaking up The Avengers. I can also see where Steve Rodgers is coming from. If a terror attack or invasion is happening, you need to be able to act. Not have your hands tied waiting for people to decide if it's the right move or not. I never chose sides, like they wanted me to. Because if they had just dug a little deeper and didn't dial everything up to 11 immediately things would've gone smoother perhaps. But in a world where things need to happen now, both Stark and Rodgers had to do what they thought was right, as quickly as possible. Pile all of this together and you have a pretty great story that I thoroughly enjoyed.

All this is written superbly as the Russo Brothers are setting up the next phase of the MCU supremely. It simply won't be "The Avengers Take On Thanos." We have a whole cast of evolving characters we get to see grow even more in the coming year, so the casting for these guys is as important as this film is. We know that Robert Downey Jr. is Stark, while Chris Evans is entrenched as Captain America, and so on with the rest of the main team we've seen for 13 films now. But what about the others, such as Daniel Brühl as Helmut Zemo, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Well, we get more glimpses into our new heroes in this, more than I even thought we were going to get. We'll start with Paul Rudd, since he had the smallest role and we've seen his film already.  Rudd is as charming as he was in the first film and he's even gotten new moves since we saw him last summer. He's got a great comedic presence and a great sense of humor, so anytime he's involved it will be great. We'll be seeing Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther in a stand alone film next, so we'll see the full extent of what he can do, but so far it's great. His mannerisms are awesome and the suit and fighting style of Black Panther is awesome. The tunnel chase scene between Bucky, Rodgers/Falcon and Panther was amazing. While outside of the suit, he has a commanding presence on the screen. Finally, Tom Holland is a Spider-Man that I'm already in love with...and his unusually hot Aunt May too, wasn't expecting Marisa Tomei. In this we learn that Peter Parker is exceptionally smart, really young, has had his spider powers for about six months and is ready for his standalone adventure. His movements, suit, one-liners and fighting style were a great mini-introduction to his character. I was not expecting this much of the new Spider-Man to be in here, but he, Black Panther and Ant-Man bring a fresh dynamic to to The Avengers action. All while, Helmut Zemo added that bad-ass bad guy arc. Played perfectly by Daniel Brühl, he doesn't have powers, but he knew what he was doing from the get go. Stoic, unforgiving, vengeful, prepared and most of all, one step ahead, his plan worked to perfection in getting the team to implode from the inside out. Whether he's in jail or not, Zemo, dealt a major blow to The Avengers psyche.

Transitioning to the action, the airport fight scene was absolutely stunning. Team Cap vs Team Iron Man in what turned out to be a blast. I loved seeing Spider-Man fight for the first time. The pairs of combatants, the mini-chase between Spider-Man and Bucky & Falcon, Iron Man vs Scarlet Witch & Hawkeye, GIANT MAN OUTTA NOWHERE, the "How old is this kid?" line, Spidey vs Cap, all the way to the ending of the fight I wasn't expecting in the slightest. Everything about the scene, showcased everyone's powers perfectly. Plus, these new guys haven't even got to mesh with Thor or Hulk yet, so there's even more to look forward to. Alongside the the tunnel chase, (Bucky transitioning to the motorcycle, oh my) these two action scenes stole the film. With the end fight between Iron Man and Bucky Barnes & Captain America coming in a close third. That scene was more driven on emotion and drama as it's the finality of a fight that I don't think any of The Avengers wanted to fight. The action, was powerful, fast-paced (sometimes blurry thought and that's one of my biggest gripes with the film) and most of all, fun. Spider-Man, Black Panther and Ant-Man have now proven they can hang with the big boys on screen, which makes me want to see even more of them in their stand alone films and in the MCU going forward. My biggest problem with Civil War is, like I said above, the blurriness. Maybe it's just me, but there were a lot of points where I thought there was a noticeable CGI blur, that kind-of took me out of the moment. Nothing crazy, or something that would make me hate the film, but these kinds of things shouldn't be that out in the open with a film of this scope. 

"Captain America: Civil War" might be the most complete Marvel Cinematic Universe film to date. For me personally it's right up there with "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," as being the top three in the MCU. The writing is evolving to make our heroes, and villains, more relatable. The cast keeps growing, as it should, if this is going to end with a battle with Thanos. The acting is also improving, as everyone plays their roles to perfection. Thirteen films in and Marvel keeps finding ways to keep this long drawn out plan fresh. Sure the CGI fights and team-ups have been in all the films, and we've seen this superhero craze go nuclear. But, I think if not for Marvel tweaking each film, making each film, almost uniquely independent from the rest of the MCU (you could almost watch any of these as stand-alone stories) this idea would've ran dry years ago. Marvel is getting more technical, they're getting more mature, they're getting more humorous (by way of less one-liners blitzed at you) and they're getting bigger. Most of all, they're telling single stories, that when combined, will end with one of the biggest battles in comic and film history. Civil War is but a small battle in the scope of this unfolding universe.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Wrestlemania Weekend Thoughts From A Guy Who is Half Happy

WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and NXT it's developmental/sister program is the most widely known pro wrestling company on the planet and have been for quite awhile now. I'm sure most of you have heard the names of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and John Cena, so you know wrestling's biggest names over the past 30-40 years. Aside from Dwayne getting his yearly WWE appearance checks and Cena still going strong, most of what you probably watched "back in the day" are probably all gone from headlining the product on a weekly basis. There's still a lot to talk about after WWE's Superbowl last night, Wrestlemania 32, and if you remember my article on NJPW, I'm probably not going to be as enthusiastic here. Major spoilers ahead probably. Most all pictures used were taken from too.


I'd like to think I'm a WWE fan boy. I've been watching faithfully since around Wrestlmania 20. From the WWECW revival, to the Raw Guest Hosts, to Mike Adamle, the switch to three hours, the shift from TV-14 to TV-PG and into the reality era. I've been through most all WWE has transitioned through the last 12 years. But the past year or so, at least on the main roster side of things, WWE has been painfully average at the very best. Vince McMahon is dead set on shoving Roman Reigns down our throats. After the fans fought back with deafening boos and general dislike of anything Reigns has done over the past two years, he finally captured the WWE World Heavyweight Championship last night in the main event of what turned out to be, including the preshow, an almost 7 hour affair. I don't hate Reigns, I just hate that it seems like he's not learning. His promos are still a mess, his move-set is still limited and turning him heel or at least giving him actual programs with people, would do wonders for him, or at least start to help him look better. This is all after two years now too. I get he primarily was a tag team wrestler before these past two years. But, unlike Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, who grew up in the indies, Reigns was not ready to be a singles guy, much less the face of the WWE.

Triple H, the savior of WWE and the pioneer of NXT, the show that's hard to dislike, was given the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Their mistake with his title run from the Royal Rumble to Wrestlemania, is that NXT is arguably better than the main roster right now. This is the "reality era." We know Triple H, outside of "The Game" is a major part in the company and has made NXT into a showcase. Where indie darlings and homegrown talent clash together to have meaningful matches and emotionally investing storylines. This is due to Triple H, or Paul Levesque, if you want to get completely real. The fans hate Roman's character and the fans love Triple H cause of his NXT work, so it was clear every time Triple H was out there, he was going to get cheered. Even against Dean Ambrose at Roadblock (his best match over the title run) the fans cheered. When he cut long-winded promos, calling us sad and pathetic for not taking our lives by the throat, some of which were alright, they didn't boo him.

On the flip-side, we have Reigns, who can't cut promos and is booed out of every arena. Even last night at WWE's biggest show, Vince's baby, during his main event in front of 100,000 (*cough* 95,000) people, the boos were so deafening, he turned down the crowds mics. Something done on Smackdown to try and get people over, replacing boos with cheers and vice versa, Vince did it at the biggest event of the year. All of this to try and get the man no one wants to see as champion (right now) "over" with the audience, that he has to know despises him. Because Vince is almighty and if he wants face Roman as champion, it's going to happen. If reports are true as well, Reigns will be main eventing Wrestlemaina for the next two years.

Now WWE won't and shouldn't bend to our fickle desires. I most certainly am a fickle fan when it comes to pro wrestling. Anyone invested into anything they like becomes this way. And who knows maybe in the coming months and years, Roman will develop. But you don't develop a character while he's on top of the company, especially if that hated person is a good guy. He can't talk and is hated by the fans. You could argue that's what John Cena did too. But he was built up from a heel rapper to where he got to, he wasn't just given the spot after a few years cause of his heritage. Reigns is probably a cool dude, I don't know, but what I do know, is that how they're presenting him now, is not working at all. All of Roman's post-Shield matches he needs to be carried in, even his good ones, see with Daniel Bryan from last year. The face of your company should be capable on the mic and in the ring.

Enough about Reigns debacle, let's get to all my 100% correct thoughts on everything that went on from NXT TakeOver Dallas until last night's Raw. We'll start with Wrestlemania, since it was the longest. So. Long.

The ladder match for Kevin Owen's Intercontinental championship was pretty well done. The entire world knows it should've been a one on one match between Sami Zayn and Owens and we also know WWE needs to have their big non-Money in the Bank ladder match ladder match each year. The match was fine, it got cool people into the match, you've gotta think Neville and Cesaro would be in this over Stardust and Sin Cara, no offense to them. Injuries suck. Zack Ryder is totally deserving of holding the belt. This also frees up Owens and Zayn to feud with each other or other people over the summer.

AJ Styles and Chris Jericho continued their feud that was pretty much over after Jericho was beaten at Fastlane. Hopefully they just leave them at 2-2 and don't force Styles, arguably the best wrestler on the planet into an overlong pointless WWE storyline as his introduction to the company. The match was fine, but we've seen just about everything they can get out of each other in the last three months.

The New Day is the most over group in the WWE right now (and can hold their own in the ring) and The League of Nations is filled with great talent. I just don't get how we were forced into a Raw-level match at Wrestlemania for these two groups. It wasn't for the title, it wasn't 4-on-3, which begs the question why it wasn't for the titles. Sheamus, Rusev, Wade Barrett and Alberto Del Rio vs The New Day in even an elimination tag match, would have done wonders to what amounted to a pointless match between the feuding parties. Plus Rusev's stunner sell was amazing.

Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar, for me, was what I thought was going to steal the show. Instead, we got a short match in which Ambrose didn't look good and Lesnar looked the same as he always does. I love Lesnar, but this is not how you book him. Nor is it how you use Ambrose. Ambrose was built as a guy who was going to fight Lesnar until the bitter end. Instead he took some suplexes and didn't even kick out of the lone F5. It did nothing for Lesnar overall and hurt Dean, the guy who has been heavily cheered and has been working his ass off all year.

The women's title is back. No more "Divas." And we get a match, up until the last 10 seconds is still worthy of being called the best of the show. The rumors of WWE dropping the hideous Divas Championship and replacing it with the WWE Women's Championship again, was supposed to happen tonight on Raw. Instead, Lita unveiled the new belt, which looks good, and let us know the first, new, champion would be crowed. Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and the last Divas Champion, Charlotte had one helluva triple threat match. Was there a few miscues, sure, was the ending unneeded, absolutely, but the match as a whole reminded me why wrestling is awesome. Banks' entrance, the moonsault from the top rope Charlotte pulled, the fighting spirit of Lynch. All three women showed they belong in the main event and stole Wrestlemania. Get Ric Flair away from all these matches too, he adds nothing and takes away so much.

Undertaker is getting ever older. Shane McMahon is a madman. This match settled nothing and was pointless. Shane was supposed to be change we all want. But this is Vince McMahon, the change we all want is stamped out by Undertaker for some reason. Plus Shane jumping off the top is the kind of insane stuff Dean Ambrose should be doing. That spot alone made Ambrose using a few weapons in a no DQ Barred Streetfight look like nothing.

Baron Corbin won a Battle Royal involving Big Show, Kane, Shaq and Tatanka. I don't even know, but the only better choice would've been Tyler Breeze.

The Rock lit his name on fire, gave props to and then slandered The Wyatts in the same sentence, beat Erick Rowan in a 6 second match and brought out Cena (who probably should've won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal) to get the crowd going? This was all a mess and everyone, but Cena really, looked meh.

Finally in the main event, which I talked about at length above, Triple H and Roman Reigns, who don't have much chemistry, competed in to most predictable main event in Wrestlemania history. Stephanie McMahon looked great and Triple H's entrance as a whole was awesome. The match however, was boring. The spear through the barricade and the spear to Steph were neat. But Triple H trying to work a match while Reigns only threw punches and spears, does not a good match make. Not to mention after six and a half hours of WWE, four and a half if you didn't watch the preshow, there was nothing left to like.


NXT on the other hand had a weekend to remember. The NXT brand is more than just WWE developmental sub-branch as it it often putting on higher quality feuds and matches than the main roster. They have homegrown talent like Baron Corbin, Enzo Amore, Colin Cassady, Jason Jordan, Chad Gable, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. Not only does the WWE work with this talent, they're bringing in indie and international stars. The last few years have brought in people like Sasha Banks, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Asuka, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Apollo Crews, Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura.

NXT TakeOver: Dallas continues in a long line of NXT specials or PPVs, whatever you want to call them. Usually about two to two and a half hours, they show case five or so of the biggest matches and stories that NXT has going. Going into Wrestlemania weekend NXT had a lot to prove. And boy did they prove it, by putting on a better show than Wrestlemania itself. NXT is story and character building, with great matches to go along with it all and TakeOver: Dallas was no exception.


American Alpha and The Revival for the NXT tag titles was fun as hell. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan are the new Worlds Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas.) Hell, Jordan even uses a modified Angle Slam. One day Kurt Angle will come back and the ovation will be thunderous. They're decked out in red, white and blue and Gable has competed in the Olympics. They are a BLAST to watch. High energy, sound in the ring and know what they're doing. Not to make light of The Revival, Dawson and Wilder. They're a throwback tag team that have been getting better with each match. Love the comparison people are making to Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. Though it doesn't seem like many people like them all that much. Smashmouth and beatdown can only get you so far nowadays, but I'm still a fan. Either way, Gable and Jordan won in exquisite fashion and gave The Revival their best match so far. Fast paced, everyone looked good and everything flowed really well. I loved that the two teams actively tried to save their partners from moves, instead of just letting them take them. A really nice touch. I hope these two teams can get a feud going. It set the tone for the show in a big way.

In the low match on the card that was still pretty okay, in Austin Aries vs Baron Corbin. Austin Aries, a guy I left off of the list up there, cause there's so much talent being brought in, clashed with Baron Corbin, who just keeps getting better at being a dick-heel by the week. A year ago I loathed him, now he's growing on me as a jackass bad guy. Aries is getting older, but hopefully this fresh NXT look can help elevate him and the rest of the people on NXT up a notch. This match showed he can work WWEs slower style against a big man. When we do see him unleashed more it will be great. Corbin also showed that he can hang with these indie guys, even though he ate the pin he looked good and had some good moment.

In the match of all the years in WWE NXT, the King of Strong Style himself, Shinsuke Nakamura, debuted to a rousing ovation against Sami Zayn. No one could've guessed that Wrestlemaina weekend, for the NXT brand, former NJPW World and Intercontinental Champion and King of Swag, Nakamura himself would be facing Sami Zayn. Sami Zayn, who I think could reach Cena levels of popularity has the improving mic skills and the amazing skill-set need to be a top star. But back to Nakamura. He strikes hard, he has the charisma of a God and always looks good. You can't not like him and if this was your first time seeing him you were in for a treat. Everything from his dope theme, to his oozing character, to his hard-hitting knees were showcased. You got emotionally invested in what was WWE biggest debut in a long while, while appreciating Zayn even more as he heads to the main roster. The back and forths, the realism, the passion and the excitement. Nakakura, if he continues to bring this type of energy, and WWE lets him, can be a top star, no doubt about it. Plus he didn't really looked like his stiff, hard strikes were scaled back too much. He brings out the best in his opponents and Zayn had his best match in WWE to date here. Go find this match and watch it twice. Nakamura has arrived.

Bayley the most bubbly and unsuspecting woman in WWE had held the NXT Women's Champion since last August going into last weekend. Asuka, the joshi (women's wrestling in Japan) style, hard striker, much like Nakamura, from Japan has been on a war path in NXT leading to TakeOver Dallas. She's undefeated, ya know? This was the hardest match of the weekend to predict cause both of these women have shown they can go. The two, despite having not wrestled on TV before delivered a great match. The crowd was behind Bayley all the way and she looked good. You could tell she had never been in a match with Asuka, because of the pace of Asuka, Bayley looked a little slow at the start, but as the match went along, she got much more comfortable. Otherwise this match was a great Asuka showcase. We've seen Bayley, we know her and she adapted well in this match. We didn't really "know" Asuka until now. Now she has complete credibility. She will kick and submit anyone in NXT. I'm really excited for Asuka and Bayley going forward in NXT.

Finally in a stellar main event, The Demon, now with chainsaw, Finn Balor defended his NXT championship for the second time against the Samoan wrecking ball, Samoa Joe. Now, their first match at NXT TakeOver: London was fine, but it was missing something. This match was not missing that something. Balor looked like a champion on the ropes and Joe looked like a monster ready to kill. There was brutal back and forths, Joe was cut up the hard way early on and then it became a monster fighting refs, doctors and a demon, and looking unstoppable doing it. Taking nothing away from Balor, Joe made this match way better by being the machine we've seen over the years. His moves were great and he looked ready to kill anyone and everyone. The ref stoppages weren't too bad, I get it, it's WWE now. It made Joe more angry and that's fine by me. Balor was great as always. On NXT TV he's fine. But he always adds that extra oomph to TakeOver specials. I thought Joe was winning once the final part of the match was starting, but that didn't happen. So I guess Bulletproof, Balor Club, Bullet Club, whatever, with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows will debut in NXT in for awhile before the main roster. This was a great min event and if it was Joe's last NXT match, the main roster better be ready. NXT needs to get ready as well because Nakamura and a Club is on the horizon.


*All of the above was written before Monday Night Raw from last night.*

The Raw after Wrestlemania! Usually one of the best Raws of the year, and WWE has decided to take what makes it special and making a video package and a spectacle, instead of it just being an understood thing. Either way after a sub-par at best, Wrestlemina, Raw was primed to have big debuts and shocking moments. Except booing Roman Reigns, because that was a given.

Vince McMahon started the show by making Shane McMahon the GM for Raw for tonight, rendering the last month of build and the match with Undertaker useless. At least we got the awesome spot of Shane leaping.

The New Day are still as positive and awesome as ever. League of Nations booted Wade Barrett after their loss to New Day. Then after they kicked him the Wyatt Family attacks the three remaining members. I'm confused, but this probably all but confirms Barrett is leaving this summer. I'm not terribly excited either, because Harper is injured it severely limits match potential.

Sasha wins again. #LegitBOSS

Did not expect Apollo Crews to make his main roster debut, but since they're not using him in NXT, he's more than ready to be promoted to the main roster. With the amounts of NXT alumni on the main roster now, an NXT stable or "The Future" stable at some point. Breeze needs to stop being jobbed out, but Vince doesn't think NXT can draw, but loves big muscly men. So Crews must have him ripping his hair out. I like Crews, I hope he doesn't turn into Lashley 2.0, cause Crews has mad appeal.

Reigns promo went "Come on guys. I'm not a bad guy. I'm not a good guy. I'm THE guy." Who writes this shit, cause it makes the good guy and face of your company now look even more unlikable. Then he challenges anyone to come out, so Chris Jericho, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn come out. The all brawl around him ending with Jericho getting speared. When we get back from commercial Shane makes a fatal four way for the No.1 Contender-ship between those four men, the main event. Praise be to Shane. He's getting better on screen (again) and would be a pleasure to see weekly in all honesty.

Big Banter. PRESENCE. Baron Corbin has arrived. After winning the Andre the Giant Battle Royal he makes his Raw debut. In a solid match up, until the mind boggling double count-out, Corbin showed he can hang with with the main roster. It's helps that it was Dolph Ziggler too. He's always really under appreciated.

Zack Ryder vs The Miz for Ryder's new Intercontinental Championship happened. Fine match. Then The Miz got in Ryder' dads face, who pushed him down. Then the lovely Maryse (Miz' wife) hopped the barricade and slapped Ryder's dad. Allowing enough of a distraction for Miz to regain the IC title for the fifth time. How bizarre, poor Ryder, and good to see Maryse back. Rematch on Smackdown.

The Vaudevillains are debuting on Smackdown this week too. Underrated as hell. Let's see how they are used in this huge tag division. Hopefully they don't go the way of The Ascension.

Charlotte pissed off the women's division and got shook up by the vocal crowd during her official title presentation. They all left, and Natalya stayed to tell her to be a little more humble. It seems like these two are heading for a title match. Which is fine, they had a great NXT match awhile ago and their match at Roadblock was fine too. I don't get why Sasha isn't involved at this point. She has still not been pinned in any form aside from the draw with Lynch. Maybe they'll get to work with Paige and Emma going forward, that would be awesome.

The Usos and The Dudleys. Meh. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady debuting?! What a moment! Enzo was fire, Cass looked great and the crowd was white hot.

Kevin Owens killed Sami Zayn in the back prior to the main event. Boo. But The Swiss Superman Cesaro is back! Yay! Now Zayn and Owens can feud too! Yaay! This main event, for the first man to lose to Roman Reigns. Everyone looked stellar and the pop for Cesaro was great and he looked good. An actual match, with real stakes without a DQ or interference to finish Raw was nice. Did not expect AJ Styles to take it, but damn am I happy he did. Even though he's probably going to lose, I think, Cesaro, Zayn, Owens and him are the ones that can lead Roman to a good match.


I watched 12 hours of WWE and NXT programming over the weekend between TakeOver, 'Mania and Raw. Wrestlemania was too long, TakeOver was just right and Raw was alright. There's going to be a lot of people who swear of WWE, but I think the summer build should be fine with Zayn, Styles, Cesaro, Owens, etc in the fold on the main roster. The women are getting better and better, Sasha, Becky, Charlotte, Paige, Emma, Nattie, etc, could have actual programs soon. While we can look forward to more Nakamura, Balor & Anderson/Gallows, Bayley, Asuka in NXT soon. Not to mention Ibushi, HELL YES, is rumored to have signed and the Global Cruiserweight Series will happen as well. But this is still WWE, over produced and not ready to fully commit to new stars that the fans want to see, but they're slowly turning. When they do finally make the leap, it's going to be awesome.

To end I'm going to highlight my six favorite things about Wrestlemania weekend. Thank you for reading this long-winded diatribe about WWE after it's biggest weekend of the year.


6. Finn Balor vs Samoa Joe, NXT TakeOVer:Dallas, 4/1/16

5. Shane McMahon jumping off the Hell in a Cell cage, Wrestlemania 32, 4/3/16

4. The Revival vs American Alpha, NXT TakeOver: Dallas, 4/1/16

3. Bayley vs Asuka, NXT TakeOver: Dallas, 4/1/16

2. Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks vs Charlotte, Wrestlemania 32, 4/3/16

1. Sami Zayn vs Shinsuke Nakamura, NXT TakeOver: Dallas, 4/1/16